Are expats tempted by Thailand?

When Brits think about retiring or moving abroad, more often than not, picturesque landscapes of beaches with cloudless skies are cited as their desired features.

While the usual suspects of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy still top the list, many have looked further for a place in the sun.

And these potential expatriates are attracting the attention of several countries around the world which have adopted favorable tax rules and open them the possibility of settling there or retiring.

One of those countries is Thailand. Not only is she famous for her climate and affordable lifestyle, but she has also made strides in becoming more attractive to foreigners.

For example, this year the Thai government developed a “proactive economic plan” to attract at least one million foreigners and high-income investors to Thailand and help them settle.

While the prospect of retiring to a tropical location certainly sounds appealing, what can Thailand offer and what is available for Brits who wish to settle and / or retire there?

International advisor spoke with consulting companies around the country to understand the benefits expats can enjoy if they make the one-way trip.

Attractive destination

Paul Gambles, Managing Director of MBMG Investment Advisory, said: “Many features – the climate, the food, the welcoming people and the laid back lifestyle – that make Thailand an attractive vacation destination also make it a great location. for the British. live and work.

“The Board of Investment allows you to own and manage your own business in Thailand. The UK is one of 14 countries whose nationals, aged 50 and over, are eligible to apply for renewable five-year retirement visas.

“Currently, various government departments are consulting on how to implement the cabinet’s proactive economic plan to attract wealthier foreigners to boost domestic consumption.

“The solutions proposed consist in particular of facilitating access to property for foreigners and offering greater tax advantages. Currently, foreigners can own property but not land that would be preferable to wealthy Western retirees.

“The tax incentives could be aimed at attracting foreign investors to set up regional offices in Thailand, as well as more attractive proposals for retirees, the self-employed, digital nomads and start-ups.

“MBMG’s view is that while the incentives offered seem likely to create a range of exciting new opportunities, Thailand’s legal and tax structure has always offered legitimate opportunities particularly favorable to UK expats, especially those who earn income outside of Thailand or hold significant assets. out of the country.”

Expats, however, weren’t the only ones to have noticed. Many wealth management companies have entered into partnerships, joint ventures or even are moving to Thailand to tap into the country’s growing advisory market.

Examples include Schroders, Julius Baer, ​​Lombard Odier, Franklin Templeton, LGT, and Stashaway.

Investments

Tim Niranvichaiya, country manager for Thailand at Stashaway, said the pool of investment options available to clients has grown to meet a more global and mobile population.

“In the past, most of the investment options available to investors focused on the domestic market. But today we see both traditional banks and fintech players offering more offshore investments to their clients, allowing them to build a more diversified portfolio globally.

“One of the reasons for this is that the Bank of Thailand has also relaxed the rules on foreign investment and put in place better regulations to benefit consumers. As a result, it opened up the possibility for financial institutions to directly offer more global investment products and services.

“There are also tax-advantaged funds offering a variety of investment strategies like provident funds, pension mutual funds and super savings funds where foreigners can enjoy tax benefits in the same way as Thais.

“Having said that, these funds are commonly used as tax reduction vehicles in Thailand, but there are eligibility conditions that you should consider carefully, such as continued membership or holding periods.”

Living and working in Thailand

Paul Wyatt, Managing Director of AIMS Pensions and Investments, added that the UK has ties to Thailand through the British Embassy and the British Thailand Chamber of Commerce because they “work for both expats and UK businesses here and provide a network and a common purpose to those with the same mind and values ​​”.

“Working in Thailand is pretty straightforward, although it’s a good idea to have an accountant who knows the local rules and has a good understanding of English to help run the business side, if you have one. They can also make visas and work permits much simpler.

“To work here you need a work visa and a work permit and you can’t have one without the other. The visa is renewed every year and your passport must be stamped every three months, either when traveling outside the country or at local immigration offices.

“Income tax is on world income with eight brackets, ranging from 0% to 35%, so it’s a reasonable overall level. On international income, tax is only assessed if the income was earned in the year you bring the money into the country. There are various deductions and allowances including savings through Thailand Provident or mutual funds available from local banks. VAT is 7%.

“Corporate tax is 20% while there is a 15% rate for small businesses.

“In terms of investment management, Thai regulations are broadly similar to those in the UK. The financial services regulator, the Thai SEC, is very clear about the advisory process using risk profiling, client types, fee / commission disclosure and written advice.

“There is no national health service in Thailand, but the network of private hospitals is excellent. It comes at a price and therefore a decent quality local or international medical plan is generally a good idea to cover inpatients, outpatients or both to give you peace of mind, ”he added.

With Brexit making life more difficult for Brits seeking a life in the sun, Thailand could prove to be an attractive alternative that has an established connection to the UK as well as a large multinational expat community.




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